“Have you guys looked at the sky at 5:53?,” asked TOMORROW X TOGETHER (or TXT) member Taehyun last Monday during their comeback show. He was alluding to the Korean name of their new EP’s title track, “Blue Hour,” the rough translation of which is “You and I Discovered the Sky at 5:53.” Invoking the time of sunset in late autumn, the song captures the beauty of the space between light and dark: “Right before it changes from day to night, the sky is filled with various colors during the Blue Hour.”
The song is a good metaphor for the duality of TXT’s discography, which exists at the intersections of brightly colored, processed bubblegum pop and the darker elements that often haunt their musical production and lyrics. Through their music videos, with portals to other worlds, fable-esque stop motion, and dreamlike horror sequences, and which are sometimes the length of short films, TXT has built a cinematic universe of magical realism. “Blue Hour” fits right in alongside this anthology of modern coming of age fairytales.
Illustrating TXT’s ‘nostalgiacore’ feel, the video for “Blue Hour” begins with an overture of wistful folk vocals and plucky strings not included on the album version of the track. In the background are sound effects matching the storybook visuals: a CGI bluebird’s wings flutter and an old Ferris wheel creaks on its hinges. Twinkling descending notes fade into ghostlike vocal chants and pulsing synths. Though the lion’s share of “Blue Hour” is uptempo pop with a punchy beat and disco influence, this introduction sonically strikes the balance between the era’s both sugary sweet and dusky aesthetics.
Concept photos for the comeback were released in three batches with 8-bit pixel graphics: the kitschy “R” (yellow Crocs! Face stickers! Yeonjun’s cotton candy mullet!), neon-lit “VR,” and earthier “AR.” The styling for the “Blue Hour” music video itself, however, offsets its scenery bursting with color by being slightly more muted. Still, it never loses the signature quirkiness of the era. In the video, TXT dresses in two cowboy-inspired looks as a group: one of pastel dusters against a vividly green field, and the other of black leather amongst the darkened magenta clouds. Inverted images of each other, the costumes bring a western flair while also reflecting the song’s thesis of light, dark, and the hues created in-between.
With songs like “We Lost the Summer” and “Ghosting,” the rest of the Minisode 1: Blue Hour EP expresses feelings of uncertainty and isolation in our quarantined digital age. “[The album] is a mini episode of 5 boys, who experience some rift and feel that everything is unfamiliar,” said Yeonjun, describing the project during their comeback show. In 2020, that unfamiliarity is something many of us have become intimately acquainted with. TXT’s songs, in the past, have used world-ending stakes as an allegory for coming of age, and this year has only made more acute the anxieties of navigating this transition.
“Blue Hour,” like the sunset, creates a liminal space—warm light still glowing, but the shadows lengthening. Somehow, in a moment of change and suspense, the song’s tone walks this line between wistfulness and expectation while indulging in the shades of now: “On the boundary between two worlds / I want to leave a trace of you and me / At the hour between dog and wolf / I want to be trapped in the magic.” It’s futurism, and it’s nostalgia; it’s escapism, and it’s memory. In short: it’s what TXT does best.